Big Ten Teleconference: Ron Turner

Illini coach discussed the matchup with UW, including the task of taking on the Badgers' front four

Opening statement:

"I thought we played better. I thought we played more aggressively. We were a little more physical than we what we had been but we continue to make mistakes that hurt us. Obviously you start with the first play of the game with the botched reverse where we fumble the ball and they get it on the five-yard line and we lost our starting receiver. So that game really couldn't start out a whole lot worse. Then throughout the game I thought our kids fought hard and tried to come back but every time we had an opportunity to do something we'd make a mistake to hurt us. We've got to eliminate those mistakes and we've got to find a way to take advantage of opportunities while we have them if we are going to take the next step.

"I like this team. I still think we can be a good football team. We are going to continue to grow up as the season goes on. We have a huge challenge this weekend going to Wisconsin. Defensively they are really good, an outstanding football team. Their front four is as dominant as any team I've seen maybe since I've been here. They are just outstanding and just overall defense. They've got seven starters, all have been starting or playing for a long time. They've got a lot of experience. Just a dominant defense. Their stats don't lie. They've given up 19 points in four games and one touchdown. They have been every bit that dominating team. So it is going to be a huge challenge for us but I think our guys are excited about it. I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge and we are looking forward to getting back on the field today for practice and trying to get better."

Did you see any change in Beutjer after he was granted that sixth year? Did it change his outlook at all, make him more determined?

"I think it really has. I like the way Jon has responded. When he was granted a sixth year I told him that was great and we were happy to have him back and look forward to him coming in and competing but the job wasn't his. He had to come out and earn it. And he did that. I like the way he approached everything. I like the way he has been playing. He's prepared very hard it the offseason, worked hard physically and mentally in the offseason. I definitely see a change and see a tremendous determination in Jon to come out and play well and help his team win."

When you broke down your run defense last year what areas did you target that needed improvement and how would you evaluate it so far?

"I think there were a couple areas. Just getting off blocks, defeating blocks…using our hands defensively up front and linebackers we had to improve tremendously there. And tackling, where we had the opportunity to make tackles, we had to improve in that area. I think we are improved in both those areas. Coming off the ball, attacking the line of scrimmage, being more aggressive is another area. I think we've improved in those areas but we are not where we need to be. I think we are better but we have to continue to get better, continue to work on the techniques and fundamentals... We are going to have as big a test this week as we will have all year."

In terms of preparation does it really matter who Wisconsin is going to use at tailback? Obviously Anthony Davis is the most talented but in terms of how you prepare. Did you sort of make a guess as to who is going to play the most for them?

"We said early in the week that he was going to play. We felt that way all along. We are preparing that way: that he is going to start and play. But it really doesn't make that much difference. We know they are going to run the ball and they are going to come after you. We just have to be prepared for the running game and then be ready to handle their play-action pass. They will spread you out and jump in some shot gun… so we have to be ready to make all those adjustments… regardless of who is in there. But the bottom line is it starts with stopping the run when you play Wisconsin and regardless of who is back there carrying the ball."

Do you wish you could be playing them last week when Davis was out?

"He's a great player and that's just the way it falls. You can't sit there and say, ‘well, I wish he wasn't playing.' He's a great player. They've got him on their team and we know they have him and we expected him to play all along. And he is playing and we've got to go out and stop whoever is there. If it is not him, it would be someone else. We have to go out and execute and get off blocks and be aggressive and just tackle and swarm to the ball."

Early in the season teams were giving a lot of attention to Anttaj Hawthorne and more will probably go to Erasmus James now. With Wisconsin's defensive line, how hard is it to choose which player you double team?

"They both are great players. They have four defensive linemen that are unbelievable and if you focus on double teaming one of them then the other one is going to make plays. And yet you have to do it. Those guys are both—Hawthorne and James—are playing unbelievable. They are a force inside. We played them a couple years ago and they were really good players then and now they've grown up and (are) bigger and stronger and faster. When I put the tape in on Sunday the first thing I saw; I looked at it and I thought I was watching an NFL defensive line, the way the come off the ball and the speed and the size and the strength they have…They present a lot of problems for you. Choose to double one…then one of the other four are going to get you. It presents some tremendous challenges."

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